Godspell Reflections- Part 1
Many of my regular readers are here to brainstorm discipleship stuff, and they probably wonder when I'll get off this Godspell kick and back to writing about semester systems, discipleship models, and training resources. I promise I'm going back to that. But much of my personal spiritual growth right now is coming from my involvement in the Godspell production, and I just have to write about it. I'm entitling this entry "Part 1" because I'm sure it won't be the last.
I've always been fascinated by the "dream" stories in the Bible-- Joseph, Jacob, Daniel, Peter, John. In fact, it seems that God spoke to people through dreams about 20 different times in the Bible. I believe God is still in the business of speaking through dreams-- both the actual dreams of the night and the dreams that we discover in those moments of wide wakefulness that seem to come from somewhere beyond.
I've just had the unforgettable experience of seeing God move one of the dreams he gave me from a crazy idea in the head of a high school freshman in Mobile, Alabama to the stage of a coffeehouse in Washington, DC. I saw Godspell for the first time in 1988, and I still remember the names of the cast and band members from that production. I was so moved that I decided then and there that I would be a part of it one day. It's been fun to watch God move the dream forward and how he has built a team of people to accomplish it. Isn't it interesting that God gives the same dream to multiple people?
We just finished our first weekend of Godspell, and wow...I keep telling myself "We just did Godspell." It's been hard to process. At times, I've felt too removed from the main action of this process to be fully impacted. At other times, I've felt too close to the main action to understand the impact. You never know how you're going to react when God allows you to be a part of the impossible-- uncontrollable shouts of joy, tears, peacefulness. For me, I just keep thinking, "We just did Godspell." I don't think it will hit me for a few weeks.
Let me make an observation about chasing God-sized dreams: you need a team. At this point, I'm more excited about being a part of this particular team than I am about Godspell itself. Our cast is amazing.
Nathan Spiwak heard about the auditions the day before they happened, and he landed a role that requires so much from an actor-- both onstage and off. He has committed huge chunks of Scripture to memory and helps people see Jesus for the first time every night he steps on stage. He's made significant investments, and they are paying off.
Dan Cummins' theatrical resume is my favorite-- the middle section of the dragon in his fourth grade play. It's been so much fun to watch his growth and development. He is singer, comedian, and at some point even turned into a dancer. I love his attitude. He portrays the everyman that each of us can identify with. I look forward to seeing how God uses him artistically in the future.
Chris Girardi is comedy central. So often, I have said, "I am so glad Chris is in this show." He's been a part of the Godspell conversation since it first started, saying he had always wanted to be a in play. He rocks his song every night and he brings laughs at just the right time-- both onstage and off.
Jessica Johnson was not even on my radar screen-- I had no idea she had such a wonderful voice and was such a great dancer until she came out for the audition. She also has the amazing ability to remember her lines and everyone else's, and she has saved this show and her fellow actors on more than one occasion. She sings two of my favorite songs from the show- On the Willows and By My Side.
Bekah Kitterman has one of the most critical roles in the show. It is the character that most clearly represents the story of forgiveness and healing, and she brings it every single night. There are a few people that I really enjoy watching perform, and Bekah is one of them. She's incredibly gifted in so many areas, and she did all of our graphics and branding work as well.
Robin Landauer took a break from small group leadership this semester in order to be a part of this production, and I'm so glad she did. Yes-- I just said I was glad that a small group leader actually stopped leading their group in order to be a part of this. While Robin has a lot of vocal experience, I think this is her first stage musical. She tackles one of the most difficult songs in the show- Oh Bless the Lord- and she reminds us that we have to continue to go to God in prayer through this process. She is an encouragement to me and to others in the cast.
JoyAnna Neiner has shown incredible persistence. Every actor knows that the process is a struggle, and JoyAnna has gone through that process with this show. She has a challenging role in that the character she was given is harder to develop than most of the others, and that has required her to make difficult choices. I've seen her step out of her comfort zone over and over again to bring life and joy to the stage.
Lisa Overman has been on since day one. I was so impressed with her audition, and I think we decided right then and there that she would be our Day by Day girl. The first time I ever heard her sing "Long live God," I thought I was going to cry. She has been a constant encouragement to the cast and has been a source of joy throughout this entire process. Bring back the chicken!!
Jen Watts has been one of our hardest workers and has one of the best attitudes in the cast, and she is hilarious onstage. Many times, character development is made in the small things-- Jen has made big decisions about the little things and it shows in her performance. It's the little expressions and gestures that round out the big stuff she does on stage.
Ryan Zempel is the best. Okay, he's my husband so I have to be biased. But I love his commitment to this process and his hard work. I'm so grateful that we've had an opportunity to be a part of the creative process together. And I love his Prodigal Son and Good Samaritan bits.
And that's just the cast. Then, there's the creative team. People like Pat Thomas who come early every night to set up chairs and stay late to strike the house. People like Genevieve Williams who has more experience than most of us could ever imagine having but has invested her personal time and energy into this show. People like Sarah Chilcote and Ellen Auer who are absolutely amazing at what they do and make people sound great vocally. People like Renee Vogel and Tiffani Hampton that can make the stage dance. People like Eryn Chaney who has tons of experience but came to be stage manager out of the goodness of her heart and encountered the goodness of Christ in the process. People like Kristen Hampton and Jared Johnson who have given their time and efforts to make sure the people on the stage look good. Our band- Dustin Exley, John Purcell, Jason Wolfe, and their fearless leader Sarah Chilcote.
And people like Kacey McGowan whose heart beats for God and the people and vision that God has entrusted to her care. She has poured countless hours, prayers, and tears into this thing, and there is no way anyone will ever be able to fully understand how much she has sacrificed to make this thing happen.
These are good people. If anyone questions what any of this theatre stuff has to do with making disciples, I simply point to the community that has been built, the lives that have been changed, and the way these people have transformed my own life. I will post later on exactly how this process has fit into our discipleship strategy of Be One Make One For One and how these people have grown as seekers, learners, influencers, and investors. For now, I'll just say that this is the kind of community that I believes Christ prayed for in John 17-- "that they would be one."